First, I’d wake when my body had had enough sleep; I wouldn’t be jolted by the irksome 5:15 a.m. wake-up screech I usually hear (followed by my back-up cell-phone alarm).
I imagine the room would be darkened thanks to stormy weather outside, so I’d be rubbing my eyes as the weak sun peeked behind the clouds around 7:30, and laze around in bed watching “The Today Show” for an hour or so.
Then, since I would have slept in real pajamas (vs. sleeping in clean gym clothes so I can just wake and go) I’d change into my workout clothes. I’d ignore my digital Tanita scale in the bathroom while getting ready; she has no purpose in my dream day.
I’d hit the gym for a nice, long workout including cardio and weights, but I would stop when my legs and arms started to fatigue–not when I’d burned X calories or been working out for X minutes. Because I wouldn’t be rushing to work, I’d have all the time in the world to take a break and reassess, stretch, etc. I’d leave the gym with a spring in my step, not rushing for the door.
Back home I wouldn’t need to go grocery shopping, clean or do laundry like I do most Saturdays when I get back from the gym, because on this dream day (during the week!), all our clothes are clean and folded, every room is spotless, and the fridge is stocked.
I’d take a leisurely shower with all my favorite soaps and scrubs. A leave-in conditioner would soften my curls, and the warm water would loosen my tight muscles. I’d wrap my fluffy white robe around my body and slide my feet into my favorite leopard-print slippers.
Padding into the kitchen, I’d prepare my usual breakfast simply because I love it so much: oatmeal, skim milk and blueberries (or whatever fruit was in season). Like usual, I’d have a tablespoon of chunky all-natural peanut butter on the side, rounding out my perfect post-gym breakfast.
But I wouldn’t eat it standing up while curling my hair or in the living room watching TV. I’d sit at the kitchen table, properly, reading the morning’s paper–not perusing work e-mail, Gmail or the Weight Watchers site.
Then after breakfast, I’d dress in comfy jeans, a fitted T-shirt and a hoodie, apply my favorite makeup–Bare Escentuals–and head out to Barnes and Noble, where I’d literally lose myself in a book, until my tummy growled for lunch some three or four hours later.
I’d walk from B&N to the nearby Panera Bread and have lunch while people-watching and, in pauses between bites, writing in my personal journal. I’d linger over my favorite (in-season) Panera fare–the Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with chicken and a whole grain baguette with just 1/2 a little packet of whipped butter.
I’d eat slowly, savoring the burst of fruit in each bite, and stop when I had had enough. Instead of drinking Diet Coke (mmm, fountain Diet Coke!) I’d drink unsweetened iced tea with my meal.
Because I wouldn’t feel bloated from soda, I’d walk for an hour or so, maybe window-shop, er, do some damage at the mall (Ann Taylor Loft, of course!). Then if I had the hankering, I’d hit a café for a skinny sugar-free vanilla latte to bring to my favorite day spa, where I’d get pampered with a new haircut/style, as well as a luxurious mani/pedi.
At the spa, while sipping cucumber-infused water, instead of mentally going over how much I’m spending in my head and what better use the money could have had, I’d zone out and just let myself get engrossed in the various treatments. Because they’re just that: treats. It’s not like I indulge like this often.
Afterwards, feeling beautiful and relaxed, with pretty fingers and toes to boot, I’d head to the grocery store to pick up salad greens and a few fixings for a healthy dinner–but not before buying a piece of gourmet dark chocolate at my favorite confection shop here in town (which I’d save for dessert).
Once home, I’d change into sweats and lounge on the couch–something I rarely allow myself to do–and read a book or magazine with the TV off; no distractions.
With stormy weather outside, I might even take a cat-nap if my circadian rhythm demands the rest. Again, this is something I never do, unless I am sick. Typically, there’s always “something” to be done. But not today, not on my “dream day.”
I’d take my time in the kitchen preparing dinner. Since I’m only cooking for my own tastes tonight and can eat when I am hungry, I’d make my favorite Cooking Light recipe, pear-and-apple-stuffed pork loin (my husband isn’t a fan of the meat-and-fruit combo) with quartered baby red potatoes roasted in olive oil, rosemary, thyme and garlic and topped off with a dusting of parmesan cheese, served alongside roasted asparagus and a field greens salad with oil and vinegar. I would actually consume the full 2 recommended teaspoons of oil this day!
Around 8, I’d sit at the table and enjoy a glass of wine with my dinner, something I so rarely do because of the points involved. I love wine, but I’ve always preferred to eat my points vs. drinking them. And for dessert I’d just have that lone piece of dark chocolate, swirling the treat inside my mouth and savoring the hints of cacao and spices I can’t pinpoint but know exist in the square. I’d be satisfied, not stuffed, and wouldn’t wander into the kitchen two hours later for a snack.
Since there’s no friends, family, or husband to talk to on the phone or in person during this 100% solo day, I’d clean up and go for a quick bike ride on the bike trail behind our home before the sun went down. I’d bring in a fresh-cut rose from our garden and put it in a vase to remind me of my own blooming potential when I just take time to enjoy life versus plowing through it.
With my face washed and my teeth brushed, cozy under the covers, I’d watch Larry King. Then I’d write tomorrow’s blog entry on my laptop, and prepare for shut-eye when I start to yawn, just before 10.
Thanks to my solo dream day, I’d wake eight hours later rejuvenated, relaxed, and ready to face the day…
… OK, coming back to reality, I realize no one, least of all me, can live like this every day. We all have jobs, spouses, children to raise, personal commitments, activities we’re involved in … it’s rare you get a day completely to yourself to do with what you please.
That said, I am convinced a mental health day is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, and we can all learn something from giving ourselves a day off and away from the daily work grind or weekend run-around, planned-out-frenzy.
What can I take away from this perfect day? Most obviously, I can slow the hell down. I can make time to smell the roses. I don’t need to always rush through my morning get-ready-and-go routine; I can savor it. I can listen to my body: sleep til I am ready to wake, work out til I am tired, eat when I am hungry, lounge til I am ready to move again.
Most of all, I can learn to appreciate my “me” time. Every day of our lives doesn’t require a to-do list. It’s healthy and sane to take a step back, to take a day off. To rest, reassess, and come back, stronger than before.
In fact, I’m saving some vacation time for such a day this summer.
How about you? What components of your solo “ideal day” could you build into your “everyday”?